One of the most common mistakes I see being made by folks who are new to search engine optimization is a lack of focus on attracting deep links. These people will work hard to gain new links to their sites by submitting to directories, joining organizations and filling out profiles on social networks, but they often fail to focus on getting good quality links to the inner pages of their web sites. But new data released by Jacob Nielsen shows just how important those deep links are.
BBC News had an article over the weekend that talked about the data from one of Jakob Nielsen's studies on how Internet users surf the web. His findings confirmed what most link building gurus have been telling folks for ages. It's essential to build strong links to the internal pages of your web site.
The article reports:
There has also been a big change in the way that people get to the places where they can complete pressing tasks, he said.
In 2004, about 40% of people visited a homepage and then drilled down to where they wanted to go and 60% use a deep link that took them directly to a page or destination inside a site. In 2008, said Dr Nielsen, only 25% of people travel via a homepage. The rest search and get straight there.
That tells us two things.
1.) You need to make sure ALL pages of your web site are ranking well so people find their way straight to the page that best fits what they are looking for when they run a search.
2.) You need to be building deep links to all pages of your site with good content so those pages will rank well and so direct link traffic ends up exactly where they want to be.
It's easy enough to fall into the trap of only building links to a home page. For most sites that are new to search engine optimization, the home page is the easiest one to rank. At the same time, when you're just starting off with link building, it tends to be easiest to get those front page links from the directories and sites you've been neglecting.
The trick is not to get lazy.
Once you've built that foundation (or better yet, WHILE you're building that foundation) start branching out and building links to the inner pages of your site. Create fantastic product copy and find ways to promote those individual product pages. Build a blog and use the easy-to-publish format to offer information and insight into the topics near and dear to your heart. Creating killer content throughout your site is a great way to make sure you start naturally attracting deep links.
Beyond that, make sure you're controlling what you can control. If you have social networking accounts, consider linking back to a favorite post or article on your web site instead of to your main URL. If you're leaving a comment on someone's blog and they allow you to leave links, consider linking back to a post you've made that is relevant to the topic you are commenting on. Check your internal link structure. There's no rule that says the only links on your site are in your navigation. If you have content on one page that talks about content on another page, include a link.
Users have shown time and time again they want to cut to the chase and get straight to the content they want. Your job as a site owner or marketer is to help them accomplish that goal.
Jennifer Laycock is the Editor of Search Engine Guide, the Social Media Faculty Chair for MarketMotive and offers small business social media strategy & consulting. Jennifer enjoys the challenge of finding unique and creative ways to connect with consumers without spending a fortune in marketing dollars. Though she now prefers to work with small businesses, Jennifer’s clients have included companies like Verizon, American Greetings and Highlights for Children.
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